When I left home I woke up early in the morning and brought with me the warmest clothes I have. Rome is a terrific place before sunrise, like most of the big european cities, it sleeps quietly. The political scene is under a severe turmoil after the recent political elections that clearly expressed a radical need for change. The international press as well as the financial community is carefully vigilating on the famous boot-shaped country (“what will they do next?”). I stopped reading too much about news and politics a while ago, I better stay focused on changes I want to make rather then following up the agenda.
This time of the year back in 2010 I made up my mind and I left the company I had co-founded in the nineties to begin this journey that brought me here.
One of the reasons I decided to leave my previous company was that I believed we had a product in our hands (it’s the Web CMS developed on Ruby on Rails that is currently behind the Parliament’s websites: www.camera.it and www.senato.it) and we should have primarily invested on that product rather then following on the track of being a web agency. Not an easy to make decision when you have a great staff and a wealth of experience in creating unique digital experiences. Never the less I knew three things:
- The Web was changing – evolving from pages and links towards entities and graphs. This had to do with the underlying layer of the Social Web on one side (relationships became valuable) and the massive adoption of mobile devices on the other (human-computer interaction went natural).
- European companies needed to be more competitive – 2009 economical crisis wasn’t going to fade away; it wasn’t a crisis after all but a radical change of the society towards a new and different order. We had to fight back the financial crisis that mined our economies with concrete actions. We had to take our risk and facilitate the transition from the traditional way of doing business (and building the web) to the graph economy (a matrix where knoledge becomes the key for trasparency, accountability and engagement) – speaking different languages didn’t help EU create a unified platform. Most of the ideas we implemented in the early 2000 did became sucessfull business cases and paved the ground for our companies but…in the US they became the DropBox, YouTube and Facebook we all know today: multi-billion dollar companies started from very simple ideas and a huge potential market.
- I was not alone, I had around me so many great people to build what I had in mind starting from my school buddy and business partner @ziodave, my all time friend and mentor +Maurizio Sarlo, +Francesco Scavelli, @kimrenberg, the egyptian revolutionaries @cyberzizo and +Remon Magdy along all the many others that joined us along the journey.
We started using Apache Stanbol after choosing WordPress as our CMS of choice in our new working life (you have to have a CMS after all!). WordPress had a tremendous adoption in the last 5 years, it grew as movement rather then as piece of software for content management. Apache Stanbol provides a set of reusable components for semantic content management; bringing together the two (Apache Stanbol and WordPress) meant a lot for our new company…in 2011 we launched WordLift 1.0: a plugin for semantic enhancement of WordPress-based websites.
Investing on semantic technologies was the right thing to do; it brough an enourmous value to our new client base and a strong vision on how these technologies are impacting everydays usage patterns (from search engines, to content discovery to ecommerce).
In these last two days in Salzburg (following over 8 months of preparation) we joined forces with the cleverest minds behind Apache Stanbol and Apache Marmotta and gave birth to a new company: an austrian startup ready to bring semantic technologies in the hands of large enterprises, SMEs as well as the developer community.
With great enthusiasm and honor I’m glad to thank on behalf of our Group our partners in this venture: John Pereira, Sebastian Schaffert, Aingaran Pillai (from Zaizi), Rupert Westenthaler, Jakob Frank, Sergio Fernàndez Lòpez and Thomas Kurz.
They all have committed to a vision and they all are doing their very best to build Europe’s largest platform for semantic enrichment and search.
More information will follow in the coming days with the official press release.